How I Deal With Fear

January 7, 2011 by  
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There is a “good fear” and a “bad fear”.

The “good fear” is a mechanism that goes into place when something harmful is about to happen to us to increase our ability to survive the event.  In this case certain areas in our brains such as the amygdala and the hypothalamus are activated to control the first physical response to fear. Chemicals such as adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol are released into the blood stream causing certain physical reactions such as:

  • Rapid heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Tightening of muscles
  • Sharpened or redirected senses
  • Dilation of the pupils (to let in more light)
  • Increased sweating

All of these reactions take place to help us focus and do what we must to survive.

Now the “bad fear” is a consequence of our interpretation of who we are in society and how society sees us.  And it is often not real.

I’ve experienced fear and its first cousin anxiety in small and large doses throughout my life.

First the big doses:

When leaving a bad eleven year relationship where I was emotionally and psychologically dominated, I wondered if I would survive.  I was then told by my partner I would never be anything without him. I fearfully wondered if that was true.

When I lost a job and my financial security because I was involved with a man who talked me into doing something that became a professional conflict of interest, I went on downwards spiral blaming myself for what I had done to my own life.  The blame was so great, it created an overwhelming state of anxiety.

When I knew Chris was dying, I experienced tremendous fear of what the last moment would be like and all the moments after.

These are just some of the huge events that happened in my life that brought tremendous anxiety into my mind and system.  But in each circumstance I went through the following steps:

  • Slowed my breath down
  • Carefully analyzed the situation
  • Accessed my courage to accept the situation at hand
  • Reminded myself life is a learning experience
  • Reminded myself I still had life ahead to experience and change what needed to change
  • Thought of realistic steps – even if baby steps – to take to come out of my situation

What about fear of saying or doing what we think because we don’t know how we will be perceived?

1.      I won’t approach him or her because they are going to know I like them.  And what if they reject me? What happens to my self-esteem?

2.      I won’t share my idea because what if others think I’m silly or stupid?

3.      I won’t tell others what I really want because if I don’t get it, others may think of me as a looser.

This type of fear is crippling and it’s self-created.  It often originates from a place within where we are not sure of who we are and of our own worth.  When I have these fears this is what I do:

  • Who cares?  I ask myself.  Don’t make everything in your life so serious.  So if you tell a guy you are interested and he rejects you, does that mean you are not worthy? NO. Who knows why he rejected me. Maybe I reminded him of his mother J   There is no movement forward without risk.  If I want something I have to come out of your shell and ask for it.
  • Because something doesn’t work out it doesn’t mean I’m less than.  It just means it didn’t work out.  I move on. I’ve learned not to make everything a judgment on who I am and what my worth is.

The more I get to know myself the more I learn to rely on my instincts and to respect my own values.  As long as I am in harmony within “bad fear” is something I can process and eliminate fairly quickly.

I hope this makes sense to you.  And if you are in fear, remember, all of us no matter who we are dealing with our own.

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Six Steps To Deal With Anxiety

August 18, 2010 by  
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As we move through the process of change having a relapse into old habits and response system is a natural occurrence.  After all we have spent so much of our lives being a certain way that when we decide to be different the old ways won’t’ go away without a fight.

I’m specifically thinking about trigger points that bring about fear and anxiety.  Let’s imagine we are passed recognizing that those responses are not productive and adequate and are well on our way to not respond with fear when those trigger points are pressed.  But let’s say one day under pressure we crumble and we are back at shaking at the knees and having a hard time handling the situation.

Maybe the first thought that comes to our minds is: “Nothing has changed.  Nothing will.  I’m a prisoner of this response system.”  But somewhere within us we know this thought is not true.  The key then becomes accessing that certainty.  How do we do that?

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Controlling Anxiety

June 11, 2010 by  
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hos“Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which occurs in the presence of an observed threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is the result of threats that are perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable.”

I’m not going to discuss chronic anxiety as I’m not a doctor.  But anxiety that is a habitual response based on our psychological history which we with determination can come to diminish, interests me.

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The Impact Of Loneliness

March 30, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured

March 30, 2010 in raw foods by Srinivasan Pillay – www.radishgreens.com

A recent study of 50-68 year old men and women in Chicago, found that being lonely at the beginning of the study correlated with increases in blood pressure two, three and four years later. People with higher levels at the onset of the study had greater increases in systolic blood pressure. This effect was not accounted for by age, gender, race or ethnicity, cardiovascular risk factors, medications, health conditions, and the effects of depressive symptoms, social support, perceived stress, and hostility (Hawkley, Thisted et al.). This study was remarkable because it was not a cross sectional study but instead, people were followed over time. In an earlier study of people examined all at one time, this association was also seen. Why would loneliness lead to your blood vessels being more resistant to blood flow, or your heart straining more to pump out blood?

While the answer to this is not known, a few things about lonely people are worth noting. Did you know that lonely people are rewarded more by things than by the faces of pleasant people? (Cacioppo, Norris et al. 2009) That means that when lonely people see happy people, their brains do not respond with relief. Instead, they turn off. Things, which are probably less threatening, are more rewarding. Furthermore, the brains of lonely people are also more sensitive to unpleasant people. If this is the case, it is conceivable that they suffer at both ends-the heart and the brain. The brain, being less responsive to pleasant things, does not spend much time quieting down the heart or relieving it. And the heart, needing more effort to pump blood to the brain, actually deprives the brain of the blood it needs to relieve itself with pleasant things. What a vicious cycle!

It is no wonder then, that we become nervous when we are lonely, for our bodies are telling us that something is going wrong. We may rationalize all we want about being self-sufficient or about being able to take care of ourselves, and that is true but it seems that denial of loneliness is not really helpful. Your brain and heart know anyway.

In this era of self-sufficiency, single parents, one driver cars and an increasing reliance on superficial modes of connecting, we are jeopardizing our hearts and brains without knowing this. The tendency to act as though nothing is happening does not do much either.

So what should one do about loneliness?
Firstly, if you are lonely, instead of being ashamed, know and understand this deeply. Know too, that filling your life with events and people does not remove loneliness. One of the biggest causes of loneliness is not expressing yourself as fully as you can; not being the complete success that you can be. When people are in the zone, they are usually not lonely.

This is in part because being “in the zone” removes the observing self. Paradoxically, we are most alone when we are split into an observing and experiencing self — when a part of us provides a narrative about life. We are least lonely when the observing and experiencing self are one. This oneness is where we need to be operating from and this oneness is the place where loneliness cannot exist.

Whenever you find yourself having an internal observing narrative: “I am so stressed”, “I feel anxious”, “I can’t believe I did that” — recognize that this is the way of loneliness. The only way we can get our observing voices to stop talking, is to give our all to every moment in our lives; as challenging as that is, it is critical to removing loneliness.

My main message here: removing the observing voice from your head will make you feel much less lonely than having a hundred people in your life. Do this as a favor to your heart. Your brain will thank you.

References
Cacioppo, J. T., C. J. Norris, et al. (2009). “In the eye of the beholder: individual differences in perceived social isolation predict regional brain activation to social stimuli.” J Cogn Neurosci 21(1): 83-92.
Hawkley, L. C., R. A. Thisted, et al. “Loneliness predicts increased blood pressure: 5-year cross-lagged analyses in middle-aged and older adults.” Psychol Aging 25(1): 132-41.

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